Most of the religions, including Islam teach their followers how to live peacefully. If that is so, why have there been violent protests against the video, “Innocence of Muslim”? The most significant fact about this ongoing protest is that, people in some Muslim-majority countries are protesting violently and some are not. Why is there such difference? The violent protests in some Muslim majority countries suggest that the followers of Islam in these countries are outraged because their prophet was insulted horribly in the video, which is likely to be insulting to all Muslims.
Is it the only reason to protest violently or there are other hidden reasons for this? Based on deductive reasoning and adopting an instrumentalist and institutionalist approach, I will argue that, groups are protesting violently in some Muslim majority countries to stay in power or to grab power in their domestic politics while other Muslim communities are not protesting also because of their own political interest. Also, weak political institutions are another important reason of the protest to be carried on.
To test my hypotheses I will conduct interviews with protestors and non-protestors, leaders of the protests from countries where there were protests, as well as the politicians and leaders from Muslim majority countries where protests did not occur. I will also investigate the political and institutional landscape of countries where protests occurred and where they did not and present critical analysis of the relationships between these factors to support my hypotheses. Before proceeding with this proposal, I will define some of the key terms I will use throughout the paper.
First, it should be very clear what deductive reasoning is. According to Patrick O’ Neil (2010), deductive reasoning implies that “starting with a puzzle and from there generating some hypotheses about cause and which will then be tested against a number of cases” (p. 4) which is already presented in the first paragraph. My puzzle is; why are some Muslim majority countries are reacting violently against the video while some are not? I have offered a tentative explanation that emphasizes the role of interests and institutions.
The next term is “instrumentalism”. It focuses on the struggle for resources such as power or economic interests as the basis for conflict. Another important key term is “institutionalism” which emphasizes the strength and role of institutions in a given country. The police, other law enforcement bodies, and the government can be considered institutions. I will also use the term “voluntarism” which suggests that someone or a group of people may play a key role in organizing protest and mobilizing people to stand for them.
The final term is culturalism, which focuses on cultural differences as the course of conflict Literature Review According to my hypotheses, groups that want to gain or stay in power fuelled the protest, along with opportunities provided by weak institutions. Here we can say that the groups protested must have leaders and aim to serve their own interests through protest. Therefore, to carry out the protest they mobilize people.
According to Posner (2004) from “The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi,” we see that the leaders mobilize people for them because of their own interest to stay in power. In underlining the role of Kaunda, president of Zambia, Posner says “Kaunda was at times, a skillful manipulator of ethnic division” (2004, p. 537). Posner also says about a Malawi leader “Malawi meanwhile, was ruled from 1964 to 1994 by Hasting Kamuzu Banda, a leader notorious for championing his own culture” (2004, p.537).
In another part Posner says “Banda sought to build up Chewa coalition and played Chewa off against Tumbukas as a means to this end, because he was convinced that emphasizing this cleavage would be politically useful for him” (2004, p. 539 ). From these quotes we can see that leaders do mobilize people for their own interests which prove that, my argument adopts an instrumentalist approach as it suggests that leaders from some violently protesting Muslim countries have personal interests to gain power through the protests.
Besides, this can be explained from voluntaristic approach also. If we look at Malawi leader Banda, he is playing a voluntaristic role here. Though he is championing Chewa tribe for his political use, he is a volunteer for them to save their rights and give them privilege over the opposition tribe. Now, if I test my hypotheses by this view, it shows that the protesting Muslim leaders taking an active role in emphasizing that the video was insulting and they are protesting against it on behalf of Muslim community.
Here the protesting Muslim leaders are playing the role as volunteer. This explanation clarifies the voluntaristic approach of my hypotheses. My explanation also integrates institutionalism. Fearon and Laitin (2003) argue that weak institutions provide opportunities for conflict: “We hypothesize that financially, organizationally and politically weak central governments render insurgency more feasible and attractive due to weak local policing” (2003, p. 78) which also supportive to prove my hypotheses from an institutionalist approach.
I would expect that Muslim majority countries with weak institution are more likely to have violent protest as the government as the police may not be able to control protestors which emphasize the institutionalist approach of my hypotheses. As the leaders of violently protesting groups aim at grabbing power (instrumentalism), they present themselves as volunteers (voluntarism) and weak institution (institutionalism) as government as police make their way smoother to carry out their protests without difficulties.
Therefore, it is vivid that, in this case instrumentalism, institutionalism, and voluntarism reinforcing each other. Alternatively, Huntington’s culturalist approach in “Clash of civilizations” does not conform to my hypotheses. Huntington believes that people from a particular civilization holds same idea about their religion and ethnicity and relations with other groups. According to him “As people define their identity in ethnic and religious term, they are likely to see an “us” versus “them” relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity or religion” (1993.p, 87).
If I justify my hypotheses according to this idea, it does not match. According to Huntington all Muslims are under similar civilization but, according to my puzzle and hypotheses it is very clear that some Muslim countries are protesting and some are not. As they belong to same Muslim civilization they are supposed to join in protest also but, they are not joining. Thus, here in this case Huntington’s idea is sort of invalid to prove my hypotheses. My hypothesis therefore does not fall in the category of culturalist explanation.
I will seek to demonstrate that the conflict stems from political issues, not cultural issues and will therefore refute a culturalist explanation for violent protest. Main and Alternative Hypotheses In my research my main argument and what I will try to prove is already very apparent that, groups are protesting violently in some Muslim majority countries to stay in power or to grab the power in their domestic politics and other Muslim community is not protesting also because of their own political interest. Also, weak institutionalized government is another important reason of the protests to be carried out.
The alternative explanation of my argument can be that the protests in some countries are going on because of religious reason which I will try to prove wrong through my research. Also, another alternative explanation is derived from this issue is that, the rivalry relation between countries which are protesting and U. S. Thorough my research I will try to prove that these alternative hypotheses are wrong. Methodology For my research I will divide Muslim majority countries into two groups. One group will contain the countries which are protesting and the other will contain countries which are not protesting on this issue.
I will choose two Muslim countries where violent protests took place and two other countries where violent protests did not occur. In countries where violent protests did take place, I will conduct interviews with several groups, including protestors, non-protestors, and leaders, especially those who organized the protests. I will also collect data about the political history of the groups’ activities as well as countries’ political history, especially their political and economical relations the political and economical relations with the U.
S. On other hand, I will interview the politicians and activists from the country, which did not join in the protest. I will investigate their political history and the background of their countries’ economical relationship with the U. S. This will help me to prove that the reason for the violent protests is not the rivalry relation between the U. S and protesting countries as one of the alternative hypothesis mentions. It will also help me to prove that, these protests have no connection with religion which is the other alternative hypothesis.
My research will provide a critical analysis of all the data to prove the given hypotheses. Also, I will compare indicators of institutional strength and stability of the countries which are chosen for my research. In addition, analyzing the collected data from interviews, political and economical history from protesting countries will help to refute the culturalist approach by proving that this issue is purely political issue and certain groups have their own interests centring the protests.
Also, collected data analysis will prove the instrumentalist, institutionalist and voluntaristic approach of my hypotheses which is mentioned throughout the paper several times. Conclusion As protests against the video ‘Innocence of Muslim’ is a recent and controversial issue, this research will strengthen our understanding of the reasons behind the protests and show how the literature on identity-based conflict can help us move beyond simplistic explanations for such a complex puzzle.
My research will clarify whether the causes are simply religious or whether various political issues are also involved. The result of this research will hopefully provoke observers of international events such as violent protest to think more critically and intellectually about any kind of protest similar to this and to differentiate between political and religious explanation. Citation Daniel N. Posner. Volume. 98, No. 4. November 2004.
The Political salience of cultural difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi. American Political Science Review. James D. Fearon and David D. Latin. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review. Patric H O’Neil. 2010. Essentials of comparative politics. Chapter-1. 3rd Ed. W. W. Norton & Company. Samuel P. Huntington, 1993. Clash of Civilization. Foreign affairs,72 no. 3